This evening on my way home, I met an odd fellow who I frequently see walking past my house with arms full of groceries. The nearest grocery store is about two miles away. I often think, “now there is a guy who could use a good bike with a big rear carrier.
I introduced myself and asked him if he would like a bicycle. My intention was to give him one of the machines from my vast fleet of two-wheelers (I have near 60 bikes now).
He thanked me, but advised he already had a bicycle. It just wasn’t working because the “Autoshifter” was having some trouble.
“The auto What?” I inquired.
The next thing I knew, we were in his garage looking at his 30-year-old AMF ten-speed. Attached to the chain-stay frame and linked to the existing rear derailure was a queer device labeled “The Autoshifter”. He said that he bought it more than 20 years ago at a local department store!
It was a pretty clever thingamajig. It worked by the chain tension pushing against a cantilevered wheel. The position of the cantilevered tension wheel forced the derailure cable to pull or release, thus shifting gears.
He said that the chain kept coming off the cassette smallest sprocket. That was easy. I just tuned in the derailure stops – problem solved. Besides that, he said the Autoshifter worked great. I invited him visit me anytime he needs his bike maintained. Anybody who walks that much rather than driving gets on my free maintenance program.
Have you ever heard of the Autoshifter? I wonder how such a neat device could fade into our forgotten bicycle culture.